Each year, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day in the busy holiday season, said Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in a statement.
For the 2016 holiday season, consumer product safety experts said, there were 18,400 injuries related to holiday decorating at emergency rooms across the United States.
The most frequent Christmas-related injuries are falls, lacerations, and then strains and sprains, safety product officials said.
Typically people fall from ladders as they try to put up Christmas lights outside a home. Two people died in the 2016 holiday season from falling off ladders, consumer safety officials said.
After falls, the next most common injury involved lacerations, including things like cutting your hand with scissors while wrapping gifts or trying to pick up broken pieces of ornaments. Another injury involves getting poked in the eye by pine needles. And plenty of people strain or sprain their backs or arms trying to hoist a Christmas tree out of a sales lot and onto the top of their car.
An article in Quartz cited examples of Christmas-related injuries from a database kept by CPSC and listed some of the incidents. One that the article cited involved a man who was standing on a stool to hang Christmas lights, fell backward and hit his head on a TV stand. In another incident, a man was trimming a Christmas tree with a chain saw when it slipped and cut his wrist.
When a bulb broke, a woman cleaned it up and thought she had gotten all of it until she stepped on a piece of it, injuring herself. And another woman got an electric shock when she grabbed a pole while taking down Christmas lights at her home.
Other injuries involved just trying to enjoy the holiday spirit. Quartz cited one case in which a woman twisted her left ankle while dancing on Christmas morning. Another woman had lower arm aches after ringing bells for the holidays. Even cleaning up from the holidays can be dangerous. One woman fell into a bin as she tried to throw out her Christmas tree after the season.
One of the biggest concerns is fires at homes involving dried-out Christmas trees and candles. There were, on average, about 100 Christmas tree fires across the country from 2013 to 2015, according to the consumer safety products agency. Ten people died in those incidents, and the blazes caused an estimated $12 million in property damages.
In Maryland, one of the deadliest fires the state had seen in decades happened in January 2015 and was caused by a dried-out 15-foot Christmas tree that was expected to be removed one day after the devastating blaze. A family of six, including the grandparents and their grandchildren, were killed in the blaze at the large home in Annapolis. Officials found that an electrical outlet that powered the lights on the tree — which was sagging and brittle — overheated, ignited a tree skirt and sparking the fire.
Safety advocates also warn that consumers should make sure lights are properly hung on a Christmas tree and in good shape, and for live Christmas trees, be sure to water them regularly. Consumers should also make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working in their homes.
Experts also gave these tips —
*Make sure a live Christmas tree stays well watered. And make sure an artificial one has a label that says “Fire Resistant.”
*Don’t put Christmas trees — live or artificial — near fireplaces, radiators or vents.
*If you have small children in your home, avoid breakable and sharp decorations. And be careful of ornaments with beads or small parts that kids could inhale.
*Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace because it can cause a flash fire that will ignite and burn intensely.
*Check Christmas light sets for breaks or cracked sockets or frayed wires. Throw out any that are damaged. Do the same checks for extension cords.
*For outside holiday lights, make sure they’re certified for outdoor use. They should only be plugged into a “ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle.”